Local Products, Marrakesh
After visiting Dar Si Said and the Tiskiwin museum, I passed by this shop. Mr Mohamed was sat in the doorway, sewing a piece of leather. He showed me the special way that he sewed the leather pieces, by using a series of needles and twisting the thread over and around the needles to produce an attractive and very secure seam. I noticed that he had a wide selection of babouches of all colours, handbags and belts. I asked if he'd made all of these, which he had, he showed me his certificate too, which showed that he was highly skilled.
This gentle modest man didn't attempt to ask me to buy anything. I wasn't shopping that day, but asked for his business card, as I intended to return to buy a pair of fuscia pink babouches that were a 'must have'!!
When I returned a few days later, he proudly showed me the completed pouffe that he'd been working on.
Besides the babouches (175dh) I bought 3 leather bags . My bill was a total of 700dh (£45)
These are fixed prices, I was very pleased with my purchases, high quality hand crafted goods, with a pleasant shopping experience!
What to buy: Babouches..beautiful colours, the softest leather,and hand sewn.
Mr Mohamed had a wide selection of colours and styles. Plain or decorated with tassels etc. 'snakeskin' and other designs.
Leather bags, shoulder bags or hand bag style.
Belts with buckles
Leather pouffes (cushions for sitting on)
What to pay: Babouches 175 dh
I think bags started at 145 dh
Fixed prices. Though if purchasing multiple items, You might get a discount
As in my previous tips, This shop was a highlight of my holiday.
Mr Doudi Mohamed, is a Master Craftsman- his craft work is of high quality, reasonably (fixed)priced.
When I next visit Marrakesh, I'll definitely call here again to purchase more goods.
What to buy: Babouches- a wide range of styles/ colours to chose from
Handbags- various styles/sizes and colours- I was spoilt for choice, but eventually settled on 3- 2 to keep (as in the picture) and a red bag, like the black one in the picture for my Mother.
I use the 'yellow' one every day now, and it's very handy- plus it still smells wonderful- a reminder of my holiday every day!!
What to pay: I paid about £45 for all of these 3 handcrafted bags- A Bargain!!
On my last day in Marrakesh, I realised that although I'd brought my copy of 'Sahara' by Michael Palin with me, I hadn't had time to read it.
I thought I'd better read his Marrakesh pages, to see if he'd visited any places I'd missed.
As soon as I'd read about his Muezzin clock, I knew this was something I HAD to have!
After a short discussion with the shopkeeper in my hotel, who acknowledged that you could purchase this item, along with instructions to go to the 'locals' shops behind the Koutoubia Mosque, I was heading in that direction!
Unfortunately, despite lots of searching and miming, I didn't find my clock! However, I thought if I could find watches in the Souk, I must be near to my goal. Again, with a lot of miming (pointing at my watch, pointing to a clock, miming sleep, then a bell waking me :-o) !! ) I finally was taken to a clock stall.
Although the owner was intent on showing me standard alarm clocks, I spotted my prize in the top corner of a cabinet!! light blue plastic, in the shape of a mosque. Instead of a shrill bell, you're woken to the sound of the call to prayer!
Since I've returned home- every time I feel a need to revisit my travels I just switch on this clocks alarm, and I'm instantly transported back to Marrakech (or Turkey, or Iran!)
What to buy: Feyyaq Muezzin = Muezzin alarm clock.
Every time I hear the call to prayer, I get goose bumps! so many happy holiday memories have involved this sound!, so this souvenir gives me the chance to relive those memories.
What to pay: I think I paid 80dh for this clock, the price started at 300dh!, my hotel shopkeeper said I'd probably pay 50dh.
What to buy:
Before I went to Marrakesh I had never ever even heard of Argan oil, but I came back with 4 bottles of it in my suitcase.
The Argan tree grows only in Morocco and only near Marrakesh and Essaouira. It cannot be cultivated! So it is a very unique and rare tree which does not have fruits regularly. But if it does, they make the most wonderful oil out of it. This oil has a nutty taste to it and has more vitamins and healthy oleins in it than any other oil!
People use it as well for cooking purposes (salads for instance, I believe heating it up is not advisable), as well as for medical treatments and cosmetic purposes.
What to pay: Argan oil is VERY expensive (for the above reasons). In the suqs they will sell it for about 120 DH (= 12 Euro) for a 250 ml bottle, but thanks to VT friend Jean Louis (JLBG) I found Argan oil for 45 DH/250 ml (= 4,50 ?) in the supermarket Marjane in the outskirts of Marrakesh.
I spotted these pottery Toureg figures in Djemma el Fnaa. After a while haggling I purchased a reclining toureg in a blue jellabah for 50dh. It was wrapped in that days local newspaper. OK, I can't read arabic, but it's another souvenir!
I always pack some bubble wrap in my luggage, in case I'm swayed to purchase fragile articles.
What to buy: local pottery
What to pay: Haggle for a price you're happy with, I was asked 200dh, and paid 50dh.
What to buy:
This was my absolute favourite shopping item! I love the smells and taste of those oriental spices, so we bought quite a few of them (which made my back smell beautifully!!)
What I particularly like is the mixtures - and in Morocco they have a 35 spices mix (at one place we even got a 45 spices mix!!!) for just about everything you cook and a 4 spices mix which is usually used when cooking fish.
Since each "melange" (= mix) is slightly different, it might be a good idea to buy those mixtures at different places.
For a warning, please have a look at my tourist trap tips!
What to pay: The mixes are much more expensive than the pure spices.
At a supermarket we paid between 13 and 15 DH for 100 grams, at the souk they initially wanted 40 and 60 DH for about the same spices, but we bargained and got the spices for 15 and 25 DH (and a grouchy face....)
I'd been coveting a leather pouffe since my first day in Morocco - but after being conned with various purchases, I'd given up. On my last day, Ensemble Artisanal came to the rescue. The great thing about his complex of shops is that it has set prices, though discounts may be offered. And that means you have a ballpark figure to work with, whether you decide to buy here or shop around elsewhere. Having a reference price takes much of the stress and guesswork out of Moroccan shopping, I've found.
A number of the shops feature the craftspeople creating the items and there is a general lack of the pressure to buy that is so persistent everywhere else in the city.
The range of items is good, but it is rather soulless compared to the souks - the real advantage to this place is gaining an idea of the going price for the various Marrakesh goods. Come and have a look here before being ripped off!
What to buy: I've never been anywhere that has as many must-buy souvenirs as Marrakesh! The following are things that the Ensemble Artisanal does particularly well:
Leather pouffes and bags
Painted wooden tables
What to pay: The important bit - I'd been told 400 Dhs for a pouffe on my first day (down from 600) and paid 180 here. Better hagglers than me could get the price down, I imagine.
If you want to buy local pottery such as tagines and beautiful painted pottery, if you can find somewhere away from the souks and central medina, preferably where they make the pottery on site you may find what you want a lot cheaper.
Leading away from Djemma el-Fna (as if you were heading for the El-Badi Palace) there's a small shop with their wares outside and at very very good prices. No haggling (there was no need it was so cheap), no hassle just a friendly smile. We paid 80 dirhams for 2 glazed slightly decorated tagines. I was so impressed that I returned the next day and bought a beautiful painted vase.
Starting from the Jma el Fna, there are two major lanes going north. Coming from the Jma, you have the Rue Mouassin on your left, and the Rue Souq Smarine on your right. Along these you will find many touristic shops and boutiques, most of them will be specialized in either carpets, leather, silver or antiques. These are just resellers. you can get a lower price at the place some things are made.
You can buy a tajine in the souks. The souks are special on a way that you have to bargain there as much as you can!!!!
What to buy: If you like cooking, a tagine is a very useful "souvenir" (even if it is a bit heavy)!!!!
There are also nice little ones to put salt and peper (less heavier and also very useful)
What to pay: Again, you have to bargain as much as you can!!!! (see local customs). For a basic tajine like on the picture, the normal price is about 30-40 DH... for a nicer one with decoration, my friend Bridget succeed to negotiate a price of 80 DH... a very good price according to our morrocan friends!!!!!
What to buy:
Before going to the desert, don't forget your "chech"! It protects you from the sun but also from the cold, the wind and the sand!!! You can find them in every colors in a lot of souks. Blue is more the colors of the berber nomads... But I don't wear a lot of blue things, so I bought a red one and a green one !
Don't hesitate to ask the salesman to show you how to put it on the head... there a so many ways to do it!
What to pay: It should be around 20 DH.
There are few experiences like that of shopping in the souks of Marrakesh. The term souk is used to designate the market in any Arabized city. Around the JEF There are so many stalls – it’s just a huge maze and it’s really quite easy, but fun to get lost.
Packed with clothes, shoes (slippers), spices, olives, sweets, leather, perfume, crafts, etc., etc. it's a lively noisy market.
You do need to bargain and shop around. Unfortunately it can be difficult to find your way back to a particular stall. I hate to bargain but we compared prices of a particular mirror and found that it varied by 3 times the amount!!
Marrakesh is the perfect place for shopping altough much smaller cities sometimes have smaller prices also. It really depends actually.
Don't buy anything at the first price. When anyone ask for 1000 you say 500. It's all about business. Also a nice tip is that they always ask for your origin country to rise the price. Americans, british, new zealands, canadian and australiana dn japanese also are ask sometimes 3 times more or double the price that a normal spanish italian or portuguese. It makes sense for their head actually, they do know money differencies between western countries...
You will find lots of places selling these kind of baskets. Usualy made by women, they usually also sell them walking by the streets moving place to place.
What to buy: baskets. they need to be put inside water no to dry out and break.
Rahba Kedima, in the central souk zone. Several small shops where you can pick up traditional bath products for a handful of dirhams. Bath gloves, terracotta scrubbers, incense. They’ll fill you a plastic bag of gooey, black, homemade shampoo for your trip to the hammam.
There is also some "Henna" artists to get a souvenir of your trip !